Asian Tech Titans
Asian entrepreneurs have created some of the best run businesses in any field. The technology sector has produced some of the most spectacular success stories. We’ve been reading about the likes of Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Larry Ellison for the best part of two decades. Asian entrepreneurs, like Azim Premji, Vinod Khosla and Sabeer Bhatia have made significant strides in this lucrative sector. We look at some of the techies, who have changed the world and now enjoy vast personal fortune. They are now also very busy trying to create more such entrepreneurs, by supporting them through their venture capital arm. They are in no particular order.
Inspired by Steve Jobs and Scott McNealy while at Stanford, Bhatia decided to become an entrepreneur. Started working at Apple after forgoing the option to do his PHD. He later teamed up with Jack Smith a colleague from Apple and started Hotmail. Hotmail was the first online brand that truly became global and headed up by an Asian entrepreneur. This was hot property and Sabeer Bhatia had to be at his smartest to resist the first offers from Bill Gates. He eventually settled for a reputed $400 million, which was an astonishing amount at the time. Has won numerous awards along the way. He has since created more businesses without the same level of success. Sabeer Bhatia however, has made a name for himself and a brand that will be talked about for many years to come.
An IIT Delhi graduate, then went to Carnegie Mellon University, to complete his masters in Biomedical Engineering and finally to Stanford for his MBA. He read about the founding of Intel in Electronic Engineering Times at the age of fourteen and this inspired him to pursue technology as a career. Co-founder of Sun Microsystems and was the first chairman and CEO. Khosla was known famously as the brain in Sun Microsystems. Left to become a venture capitalist, with Kleiner Perkins Caufield HYPERLINK “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kleiner_Perkins_Caufield_%26_Byers”&HYPERLINK “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kleiner_Perkins_Caufield_%26_Byers” Byers but not before amassing a huge fortune and appears regularly in Forbes Rich List as a billionaire. Founded Khosla Ventures in 2004 and now concentrates on green technology. Recently appointed Tony Blair, as a senior adviser. Also invested in an Indian Microfinance NGO, SKS Microfinance, which lends small loans to poor women in rural India. Khosla is also one of the founders of TiE, The Indus Entrepreneurs, the world’s largest entrepreneurial network.
Born in East Germany Jawed Karim grew up in West Germany before it was unified. He and his family moved to the United States in 1992.Former Paypal employee, who along with Steve Chen and Chad Hurley started internet sensation Youtube. You can see the first video uploaded on Youtube, where a youthful looking Karim is at a zoo. Youtube was the talk of the town before Facebook and Google were fast to make an offer the founders couldn’t refuse. $1.6billion for a company less than two years old will be a hard act to replicate. The sale helped Jawed become a multimillionaire in his early twenties. Youtube is going strong and now has over 2 billion views a day. More recently, Karim has launched a venture fund called Youniversity Ventures, with the goal of helping current and former university students to launch their business ideas.
IIT graduate, who started working as a software developer in the United States at CMC, as a systems analyst for Websci and later as a consultant for ATHYPERLINK “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AT%26T”&HYPERLINK “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AT%26T”T. Met Ruth Parasol, the founder of Partygaming, when he turned twenty five years old. He was tasked with writing software to replace the existing software they were licensing. He turned out to be so valuable to the business, that he was offered considerable amount of shares. Truly hit the jackpot when those shares ensured he became one of the youngest billionaires in the world, when the company had its IPO. He was instrumental in bringing Vikrant Bhargava to Partygaming. The world was shocked back in December 2009 when he pleaded guilty on illegal Internet gambling and agreeing to cooperate with the U.S. Justice Department in an investigation of Party Gaming. Stepped down from the board in 2006, now a resident in Gibralter and still owns close to 10% of Partygaming.
While Anurag Dikshit was the brilliant software engineer, Bhargava was the marketing maestro who made the Partygaming brand into one of the most recognizable in the world. Worked at Bank of America and British Gas prior to joining Partygaming. He is a class mate of Anurag Dikshit, who hired him to head the Caribbean operation of the company. He took on the role of Marketing Director and timed it perfectly to launch PartyPoker. While he may not be a billionaire he has made a substantial fortune and is regularly in the Sunday Times Rich List. Left Partygaming in 2006 and is now spending his efforts on launching other ventures. He also lives in Gibraltar and can be seen in London quite a bit.
Gurbaksh Chahal moved to the US when he was four with his family from Punjab in 1982. The family received a visa for America through the Diversity Visa (DV) program, also known as the Green Card Lottery. The family settled in San Jose and his parents strugggled with menial jobs to make a future for their four children. High school dropout at 16 he started his first company, Clickagents in 1998. Sold it two years later to ValueClick for $40 million on an all share deal. In 2004, Chahal formed BlueLithium. BlueLithium specialized in behavioural targeting of banner advertising (a process that tracks web users habits online in order to show ads they are most likely to respond to). The advertising network which was recognized as an innovator in the online advertising space in a Business 2.0 article. BlueLithium was the one that Yahoo was eyeing and they acquired it for the princely sum of $300 million in cash. Chahal wasn’t finished, two years later he started his third venture gWallet, a virtual currency platform for social media. He remains the Chairman & CEO of the Company. On December 1, 2009, gWallet raised its first institutional round of financing totaling $12.5 million. On January 8, 2009, he was featured on Extra TV as America’s Most Eligible Bachelor. Chahal currently lives in San Francisco, California. Still only 27 years old and if this rate of success continues he could become a billionaire even earlier than Anurag Dikshit.
One of the co-founders of Infosys, Kris Gopalakrishnan is now the CEO of this tech giant. Kris obtained M.Sc. (Physics) in 1977 and M. Tech. (Computer Science) in 1979, both from IIT, Madras. He started his career with Patni Computer Systems (PCS), Mumbai as a Software Engineer in 1979 and quickly rose to become an Assistant Project Manager by 1981. That year he along with N. R. Narayana Murthy, Nandan Nilekani and four others founded Infosys Technologies, which is now one of India’s largest corporate. Gopalakrishnan held many senior positions including Chief Operating Officer, the President and Joint Managing Director ultimately becoming the CEO in 2007. Currently the Chairman of the Indian Institute of Information Technology and Management (IIITM), Kerala, and Vice Chairman of the Board for Information Technology Education Standards (BITES) set up by the Government of Karnataka. Kris is the Vice Chairman of the Confederation of Indian Industries(CII) Southern Regional Council.
N. R. Narayana Murthy
Nagavara Ramarao Narayana Murthy better known as. N. R. Narayana Murthy, is the non executive Chairman of Infosys Technologies. Murthy was the CEO of Infosys for 21 years from 1981 to 2002. After stepping down as CEO in 2002, he has broadened his scope of activities to social services as well as promoting India globally. His estimated net worth is $1.6 billion as of 2010. In 2009, his lectures delivered around the world have been published as a book A Better India: A Better World.
Murthy graduated with a degree in electrical engineering from the National Institute of Engineering, University of Mysore in 1967 after attending government school, and received his master’s degree from IIT Kanpur in 1969.
His first position was at IIM Ahmedabad as chief systems programmer  where he worked on a time-sharing system and designed and implemented a BASIC interpreter for ECIL (Electronics Corporation of India Limited).After
IIM Ahmedabad, he then joined Patni Computer Systems in Pune. Before moving to Mumbai, Murthy met his wife Sudha Murthy in Pune who at the time was an engineer working at Tata Engineering and Locomotive Co. Ltd. (Telco, now known as Tata Motors) in Pune. In 1981, with an investment of Rs.10,000 ($250 at the time) from his wife, he founded Infosys with six other software professionals. He served as the president of the National Association of Software and Service Companies, India from 1992 to 1994.
Today Murthy is one of the most decorated business personalities from India. He serves on the boards of many Fortune companies and universities across the world. In 2008, he was awarded the Padma Vibhushan, the second highest civilian award in India and Légion d’honneur, the highest civilan award awarded by France. In 2000, he was awarded the Padma Shri, the third highest civilian honour in India. He was voted the World Entrepreneur of the Year – 2003 by Ernst HYPERLINK “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ernst_%26_Young”&HYPERLINK “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ernst_%26_Young” Young. He was one of the two people named as Asia’s Businessmen of the Year for 2003 by Fortune magazine. In 2001, he was named by TIME / CNN as one of the twenty-five, most influential global executives, a group selected for their lasting influence in creating new industries and reshaping markets. He was awarded the Max Schmidheiny Liberty 2001 prize ( Switzerland), in recognition of his promotion of individual responsibility and liberty. In 1999, BusinessWeek named him one of the nine entrepreneurs of the year and he was also featured in the BusinessWeek’s ‘The Stars of Asia’ (for three successive years – 1998, 1999 and 2000). In 1998, the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, one of the premier institutes of higher learning in India, conferred on him the Distinguished Alumnus Award, and in 1996-97, he was awarded the JRD Tata Corporate Leadership Award. He was awarded the Dean’s medal by the Wharton School in 2001.In December 2005, Narayana Murthy was voted as the 7th most admired CEO/Chairman in the world in a global study conducted by Burson-Marsteller with the Economist Intelligence Unit
. The list included 14 others with distinguished names such as Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Warren Buffett. He is also an IT adviser to several Asian countries.
Nandan Nilekani, after graduating from IIT Bombay in 1978, joined Mumbai-based Patni Computer Systems where he was interviewed by N.R. Narayana Murthy. Three years later, in 1981, Murthy walked out of Patni following a disagreement with one of the Patni brothers. His entire division walked out with him. The defectors decided to start their own company, Infosys.
Nilekani became the Chief Executive Officer of Infosys in March 2002, taking over from Murthy. Nilekani served as CEO and MD of the company from March 2002 to April 2007, when he relinquished his position to his colleague Kris Gopalakrishnan, becoming Co-Chairman. He left Infosys on 9 July 2009 to serve as the chairperson of the Unique Identification Authority of India, in the rank of a cabinet minister under invitation from the Prime Minister of India, Dr. Manmohan Singh.He co-founded India’s National Association of Software and Service Companies (
NASSCOM) as well as the Bangalore Chapter of The IndUS Entrepreneurs (TiE). While Narayan Murthy stayed in India, Nandan Nilekani shifted to the US to take care of Infosys’ interests there. He was the company’s marketing face.
In 1980s and 90s Nandan Nilekani and his team worked hard to build Infosys. Today Infosys’ success story has become a legend in India’s corporate history. Today, Infosys has an employee strength of 58,000, annual revenue of $2 billion and $21 billion capitalization.
Nandan Nilekani is recipient of several honors and awards. In January 2006, Nandan became one of the youngest entrepreneurs to join 20 global leaders on the prestigious World Economic Forum (WEF) Foundation Board. He figures among one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time Magazine, 2006. In 2005 he was awarded the prestigious Joseph Schumpeter prize for innovative services in field of economy, economic sciences and politics. In 2006, Nandan Nilekani was conferred the Padma Bhushan, the third highest civilian award in India.
Known as the Bill Gates of India, Azim Premji has been one of the most high profile Indian businessman in recent times. There were reports out in the late nineties that Premji was the richest man in the world. These days still at the helm of Wipro Technologies, and showing no signs of slowing down.
What started as a vegetable oil business by his father, M.H. Premji, Azim Premji has made Wipro one of the most formidable technology companies in the world. Premji was studying at Stanford University, when he had to return to India to run the family business after the sudden death of his father.
In the 1980s Wipro entered the IT field, taking advantage of the expulsion of IBM from the Indian market in 1975. Thus, Wipro became involved in manufacturing computer hardware, software development and related items, under a special license from Sentinel. As a result, the $1.5 million company in hydrogenated cooking fats grew within a few years to a $662 million diversified, integrated corporation in services, medical systems, technology products and consumer items with offices worldwide. The company’s IT division became the worldâ€™s first to win SEI CMM level 5 and PCMM Level 5 (People Capability Maturity Model) certification, the latest in quality standards. A large percentage of the company’s revenues are generated by the IT division. Wipro works with leading global companies, such as Alcatel, Nokia, Cisco and Nortel and has a joint venture in Medical Systems with General Electric company.
Premji is married to Yasmeen, the couple have two children, Rishad and Tariq. Rishad is married to Aditi. Premji is known for his modesty and frugality in spite of his wealth. He drives a Toyota Corolla and flies economy class, prefers to stay in company guest houses rather than luxury hotels.
Premji has been recognized by Business Week as one of the Greatest Entrepreneurs for being responsible for Wipro emerging as one of the world’s fastest growing companies.In 2000, he was conferred an honorary doctorate by the
Manipal Academy of Higher Education. As on March 9, 2010, he was one of the wealthiest people in India, with a net worth of $17 billion.He was awarded a Doctor of Letters (D.Litt.), an honorary degree , from the Aligarh Muslim University on the 18th of June, 2008 on the occasion of 58th Convocation Ceremony of the University.In 2009, he was awarded an honorary doctorate from Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut for his outstanding philanthropic work.
Founded Azim Premji Foundation in 2001, which works in area of elementary education to pilot and develop ‘proofs of concept’ that have a potential for systemic change in India’s 1.3 million government-run schools.
Financially assisted by Vinod Khosla’s then venture capital company Kleiner Perkins Caufield HYPERLINK “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kleiner_Perkins_Caufield_%26_Byers”&HYPERLINK “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kleiner_Perkins_Caufield_%26_Byers” Byers Sindhu founded Juniper Networks in February 1996 and served as Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board until September 1996. Since then, Sindhu has served as Vice Chairman of the Board and Chief Technical Officer of Juniper Networks. At the Computer Science Lab at Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), Sindhu was a Member of the Research Staff from September 1984 to February 1991, the Principal Scientist from March 1987 to February 1996, and Distinguished Engineer from February 1994 to February 1996. Juniper Networks is a major technology company has annual revenues in excess of $3 billion. Sindhu holds a B.T. in Electrical Engineering (1974) from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, M.S. in Electrical Engineering (1976) from the University of Hawaii, and a Ph.D (1982) in Computer Science from Carnegie Mellon University
Safi Qureshey is Chairman of Quartics and has been a successful technology entrepreneur, executive and investor for the past twenty six years. He is best known as one of the founders and CEO of AST Research, a Fortune 500 public company. AST produced high quality PC’s and was competing with the likes of Dell, Compaq and Gateway in that market. Unable to overtake any of them it was, in 1997 Samsung Electronics acquired AST and Safi became an active technology investor joining the Boards of Directors of several California technology companies.
Safi has developed deep relationships in the global technology, public and private investment banking and venture capital communities as well as with leading research universities. He also has experience and relationships in Washington D.C., having served on the President’s Export Advisory Council for four years traveling with three Secretaries’ of Commerce to China, India, Indonesia and Thailand. He was a member of California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Transition Committee following his election in 2003. A strong proponent of education and research, Qureshey currently serves as regent’s professor at the University of California, Irvine’s Graduate School of Management, and also actively supports U.C. Irvine’s Bonney Center for Neurobiology of Learning and Memory. In 2000 he created the eponymous “Safi Qureshey Foundation” to provide “a conduit of support for socially and economically underserved children and adults to build better and more secure futures”
Born in Hubli, in Karnataka, Deshpande graduated in electrical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, and went to Canada to do his master’s and PhD. He used to be an academic before a fellow professor got him into the world of business. Deshpande co-founded Sycamore Networks and has served as the Company’s Chairman of the Board since its inception in February 1998. In August 2007, Deshpande resigned as an employee of the Company, but continues to serve as Chairman of the Board. Deshpande served as the Company’s Treasurer and Secretary from February 1998 to June 1999 and as the Company’s President from February 1998 to October 1998. Before co-founding the Company, Deshpande co-founded Cascade Communications Corp., a provider of wide area network switches. From October 1990 to April 1992, Deshpande served as President of Cascade and from April 1992 to June 1997, he served as Cascade’s Executive Vice President of Marketing and Customer Service. Deshpande was a member of the board of directors of Cascade since its inception and was chairman of the board of directors of Cascade from 1996 to 1997. Deshpande also serves on the board of directors of Airvana, Inc., a provider of network infrastructure products used by wireless carriers, and as Chairman of the board of directors of A123Systems, Inc., a supplier of high-power lithium ion batteries. He is the brother-in-law of Infosys chairman N.R.Narayana Murthy (Murthy’s wife Sudha and Deshpande’s wife Jayashree are sisters).
A technology entrepreneur with over a decade of experience in next-generation search, Suranga Chandratillake founded blinkx in 2004 and launched the company in 2005. After early success, Suranga took the company public on the London Stock Exchange in May 2007. Prior to founding blinkx, Suranga was U.S. CTO of Autonomy Corporation, responsible for growing Autonomy’s research and development division in the United States. Before joining Autonomy, Suranga held a variety of roles in technology, sales and marketing at Morgan Stanley, netdecisions and anondesign. Suranga received his MA in Computer Science from the University of Cambridge.
A highly regarded expert on the convergence of the Web and TV, including the future of television, interactive TV and online advertising, Suranga is often invited to speak at leading industry events including Financial Times’ Digital Media Conference, Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival and Monaco Media Forum. Named a Young Global Leader Honoree in 2009 by the World Economic Forum, Suranga has also been recognized as one of the top 10 leaders in Science and Innovation by The Observer’s Future 500 list, and one of Digital Media Wire’s “25 Executives to Watch in Digital Entertainment”.
At a time when India had a total of 250 computers, Shiv Nadar led a young team which passionately believed in and bet on the growth of the IT industry. That vision in 1976, born out of a Delhi “barsaati”, akin to a garage start-up, has resulted 3 decades later in a $5 billion global transformational technology enterprise today. From designing India’s first PC at the same time as global IT peers in 1978; to working on the Boeing Dreamliner’s Flight Management Systems now, HCL has stayed a true Pioneer of Modern Computing. HCL’s range of offerings spans Product Engineering, Custom & Package Applications, BPO, IT Infrastructure Services, IT Hardware, Systems Integration, and distribution of ICT products – across a wide range of focused industry verticals. The HCL team comprises over 60,000 professionals of diverse nationalities, who operate from 26 countries including over 500 points of presence in India. HCL has global partnerships with several leading Fortune 1000 firms, including leading IT and Technology firms.
Worth a cool $4.2 billion, according to the latest Forbes ranking. Nadar, these days is becoming just as well known as a philanthropist. The government of India awarded Shiv Nadar with Padma Bhushan, the third highest civilian award for his contribution to IT industry in 2008.